NEWPORT, Ore. – A minor-league baseball promotion rooted in a quirky bit of Oregon history will culminate this weekend in Eugene with a fundraising auction to benefit Oregon State University’s Marine Mammal Institute.
The Eugene Emeralds, an affiliate of the San Francisco Giants, have played several games this season using the alternate identity Eugene Exploding Whales. The moniker is a nod to the infamous 1970 incident near Florence where highway officials used dynamite to blow up a whale carcass, with unexpected results.
In addition to team jerseys and merchandise featuring a cartoon whale holding a stick of dynamite, the promotion included a season-long partnership with the Marine Mammal Institute. Researchers and staff from the Newport-based institute have hosted information tables about the institute’s work, thrown out a first pitch and joined the broadcaster to share facts about whales and other marine mammals during games.
“We are thrilled by the opportunity the Emeralds have provided us this season,” said MMI Director Lisa T. Ballance. “It has been a fun summer at the ballpark for our professors, staff, post-docs and students, and we’ve enjoyed sharing our passion for marine mammals in Oregon and beyond with the team and their fans.”
At the final Exploding Whales game of the Emeralds’ season Saturday night, the jerseys worn by the players will be auctioned off, with proceeds from the auction benefiting the Marine Mammal Institute. Auction winners will receive the game-worn, player-autographed jerseys after the game.
The game begins at 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19, in Eugene’s PK Park. The jersey auction will be held near the team store on the first base side during the game. The auction runs from the time gates open at 4 p.m. to the end of the 7th inning. Marine Mammal Institute representatives will also be in attendance at the game.
The Marine Mammal Institute is part of Oregon State’s College of Agricultural Sciences and is based at Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport.
About OSU's Hatfield Marine Science Center: The center is a research and teaching facility located in Newport, Ore., on the Yaquina Bay estuary, about one mile from the open waters of the Pacific Ocean. It plays an integral role in programs of marine and estuarine research and instruction, as a laboratory serving resident scientists, as a base for far-ranging oceanographic studies and as a classroom for students. In addition to Oregon State researchers and students, its campus includes research activities and facilities from five different state and federal agencies.